Nurturing with Empathy: Finding Balance in Dealing with Dementia Care

Learn how strategically lying to a loved one with dementia can reduce stress and maintain peace. The author shares their experiences of lying about food choices and loved ones' whereabouts to improve the overall wellbeing of the person with dementia.

Nurturing with Empathy: Finding Balance in Dealing with Dementia Care
The Power of Gentle Truths in Dealing with Dementia

Dementia presents unique challenges for both the person affected and their caregivers. As I embarked on the journey of caring for my mother battling Alzheimer's, I quickly realized that honesty, though valued in most situations, could sometimes exacerbate her stress and anxiety. In this heartfelt narrative, I share my experiences of learning to balance honesty with compassion, using gentle truths to reduce stress and maintain a sense of peace in my mother's world.

Unfamiliar Culinary Cravings:

As my mother's condition progressed, her culinary preferences underwent an unexpected transformation. The dishes she once loved no longer appealed to her, and instead, she developed a strong craving for bacon and pineapple upside-down cake at every meal. Addressing her dietary needs while ensuring her enjoyment was challenging, but I learned that honesty could be modified with empathy.

Embracing Compassionate Communication:

Rather than engaging in fruitless debates over her meal choices, I discovered the power of compassionate communication. Instead of outright refusal, I gently explained the reasons behind healthier choices and lovingly offered alternatives that still brought her joy. This approach eased tension and ensured her well-being without compromising the truth.

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    The Complexity of Remembering Departed Loved Ones:

    One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of dementia is the frequent confusion about the whereabouts of departed loved ones. Initially, I believed that honesty was the best path, but witnessing her distress, I realized that a gentler approach was necessary.

    Now, when my mother asks about her deceased relatives, I respond with empathy and understanding. I acknowledge her feelings, affirming that she misses them, while offering comfort and reassurance. By embracing this compassionate truth, I've noticed a significant reduction in her distress, making each interaction more manageable and comforting for both of us.

    The Emotional Struggle of Compassionate Truths:

    Choosing compassionate truths over absolute honesty doesn't come without its emotional challenges. Witnessing the progressive changes in my mother's memory and personality can be heartbreaking. However, I find strength in knowing that my approach is founded on love and empathy, ensuring her peace of mind and emotional well-being.


    Caring for a loved one with dementia is a profound and emotionally taxing journey. Finding the balance between honesty and compassion has been an invaluable lesson in my caregiving experience. By embracing gentle truths, I've been able to alleviate stress and promote peace for my mother. Although the path isn't always clear, empathy and understanding have guided me through this challenging terrain, fostering a deeper connection with my mother as we navigate this new reality together. My commitment to honesty remains unwavering in my writing, but caregiving has taught me the immense value of communicating with compassion and gentle truths to support my mother's well-being with love and care.